3 min read

What's the Best Way to Relax on your Commute?

Matthew Alden October 22, 2018

Reading can be a great way to relax, as well as stimulating your mind on that long and boring commute. But do we even have time to read anymore?

Why read at all?

With a wealth of ways to entertain yourself, why even reach for a book? Our smartphones carry more music than you could ever listen to, tons of tv shows that you want to catch up on and probably 50 unopened messages from a whatsapp chat…

How could a book compete with all that? In fact, research from Mindlab International suggests that reading reduces stress more effectively than listening to music, taking a walk or drinking a cup of tea. A good book can send your mind into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation and reading fiction has been shown to heighten empathy and even reduce prejudice.

However, in the mad rush of modern life, we can struggle to find the time to dive into a good book. While the commute may seem like an opportunity to flick through some pages, it often feels easier to swipe through your smartphone. Have no fear, we’re here with reading tips so you can hack your commute.

Keep it short and sweet

Feel like your commute isn’t long enough to dive into a novel? Try collections of short stories instead. Short enough to read in a journey, you also don’t have to worry about forgetting the details of complex plots. Start with Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties for creepy stories about desire, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury for some good old fashioned sci-fi, or Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees for your literary fiction fix. Audiobooks are your friend

Are your eyes tired from staring at a screen all day? Relax on your commute home with an audiobook. Listen to the dulcet tones of actors like Meryl Streep or, if you want a double dose of the classics, try Ian McKellen reading from The Odyssey. What’s more, if you don’t fancy subscribing to Audible, there are lots of places you can listen to audiobooks for free (legally, we promise!)

Block out the world with headphones

Even if audiobooks are not for you, it’s useful to wear headphones while you’re reading on the commute. The shunting noise of the tube carriages, people coughing or taking loud phone calls will all distract you from focusing on the book in hand.

Say goodbye to the hardback

There’s a time and a place for everything. A crowded tube where commuters are pressed together like sardines is not the time to be waving around a huge hardback. It takes up space, will jab into the backs of other passengers and your pretty dustjacket will get creased. Instead, opt for smaller paperbacks, or a kindle, so you can get your fill of fiction without getting in anyone’s way.

Don’t bow to peer pressure

Sometimes the books you’ve read end up as little more than bragging rights. If you’re struggling to connect with the latest critically acclaimed novel, then perhaps it just isn’t the one for you. Chick flick, fantasy, memoir or classic - pick a book that has you hooked. Soon, you’ll be in that trance-like state, calm, relaxed and ready to start the working day.

Matthew Alden October 22, 2018

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